France vs. Spain: Why Pau and Marc Gasol Will Dominate French Squad
When France and Spain square off in the quarterfinals of the Olympic basketball tournament, it will be up to a pair of brothers to make a monstrous impact and advance into the semifinals.
Pau and Marc Gasol are the most important players on the court and both will need to perform up to their usual standards if they're going to help Spain end its surprising string of back-to-back losses.
Fortunately for them, they're in prime position to do so on both ends of the court.
Through five games, the two Gasols have been the leading scorers for the Spanish national team—Pau, with a tournament-best 20.6 points per game and his younger sibling with 11.8. They've also averaged more rebounds than anyone else on the squad.
Against France, Pau and Marc will both need to exceed those averages. Seeing as the French team features Ronny Turiaf and Boris Diaw in the frontcourt's starting lineup with Florent Pietrus—returning from a broken nose—and Kevin Seraphin coming off the bench, they'll be able to do so.
While Pau and Marc are known for being two of the NBA's best big men, Turiaf is more well known for his hairstyle and sideline celebrations than his play. Diaw is less than a season removed from being waived by a team that posted the worst regular season winning percentage in NBA history.
Even though Turiaf and Diaw have elevated their play during the group stage at London, they still haven't faced big men of the same caliber as the Gasols. They're no longer playing against Nigeria's Olumide Oyedeji and Ike Diogu.
For the first time, Boris Diaw is going to be playing a true seven-footer with versatility that can nearly match his own.
Pau can spread the floor with the best of them, drilling three-pointers and picking apart the spread-out defenses with either passes of pin-point accuracy or skillful post moves. Marc isn't too far behind him, and may already be the better passer.
Which team will advance to the semifinals?
On defense, the Gasols will also be tasked with slowing down the penetration of Tony Parker and cleaning up the glass when Nicolas Batum inevitably misses a few perimeter shots.
They'll have a tremendous advantage when crashing the boards, simply due to their size. While the Gasols are both seven-footers, Turiaf and Diaw are two and four inches short of the benchmark, respectively.
When Spain and France square off, expect the Gasols to tower above the French team, both on the court and in the box score.
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